The (spiritually) rich get richer...

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Apr 04, 2017

Good friends of ours lost a brother to cancer recently. Since they’re from a very big and very Catholic family, the internet has been buzzing with requests for, and promises of, prayers for the dying man and the grieving family.

I never met the brother, but from all I’ve heard he was a wonderful Christian gentleman, who lived an exemplary life and died with all the sacramental and prayerful support one could want. It might be presumptuous, but it would not be crazy, to speculate that he’s already in heaven. But I haven’t seen any such speculation; his family and friends keep asking for prayers.

Now contrast this with the typical funeral in an ordinary parish. Even when there’s no evidence of sanctity on the part of the deceased— in fact even when there’s considerable contrary evidence— the homily will at least hint that he’s in heaven, and the eulogy will say it outright. Nobody will ask for prayers.

So the guy who seems least in need of prayers gets plenty, while the guy who might need them most gets none. The rich get richer…

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: dfp3234574 - Apr. 05, 2017 6:28 PM ET USA

    In my parish, for the Penitential Rite, we have *never, ever* recited Form A, "I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault ..." We *always* recite Form C, the one where the priest says some short - often vacuous-sounding - prayers, and the congregation reflexively replies, "Lord, have mercy" and "Christ, have mercy." With the repetitive Form C, I rarely get the feeling of genuine prayer for forgiveness. Only Form A "says it all."

  • Posted by: filioque - Apr. 05, 2017 2:33 PM ET USA

    Let's see, what could be added to the Mass of Resurrection that would lead to more prayers for the dead? Maybe many prayers for God's mercy with acknowledgement of our sinfulness, mentions of Judgement and the possibility of Hell, black vestments, the Dies Irae, a sermon on the Four Last Things, solemn chanting of the Propers and singing of hymns reminding us of our need for mercy. Or, just use the Missal of 1962.

  • Posted by: s.van.weede8661 - Apr. 05, 2017 2:33 AM ET USA

    Thank you for this article, Phil. It makes very clear that pious catholics should pray for the souls in purgatory, especially for them no one is praying for. I fear their number is increasing, but at the same time I am sure the Lord will multiply the power of our prayers. We should exhortate each other to pray for them continuously.